Michael J. Jamieson and Morteza Naghavi Pages 1069 - 1076 ( 8 )
Risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) are highly co-prevalent but poorly identified and treated. The Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE) Task Force from the Association for Eradication of Heart Attack (AEHA) has recently proposed a new strategy that recommends screening for sublinical atherosclerosis and implementing aggressive treatment of “vulnerable patients”. The Task Force has also envisioned future developments that may shift mass screening strategies to mass prophylactic therapy. The “Polypill” concept, introduced by Wald and Law suggests a combination of statin, low-dose antihypertensives, aspirin and folic acid, in a single pill, taken prophylactically by high risk population can cut CVD event rates by as much as 80%. In this communication, we review the challenges and promises of such a strategy. “Polypill” is but one of an astronomical number of possible multiconstituent pills (MCCP). Attractive as the MCCP concept is, it lacks evidence from randomized controlled trials, and begs numerous questions about the credibility of the concept, the design and synthesis of such complex pills, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, bioequivalence, “class” vs. unique properties, interactions, evidence of clinical efficacy and safety, regulatory approval, post-marketing surveillance, prescription vs. over-the- counter use, responsibility for initiating and monitoring therapy, patient education, counterfeiting and importation, reimbursement, advertisement, patent protection, commercial viability, etc. If these issues are favorably addressed, MCCP stand to dramatically change the manner in which CVD is prevented particularly in developing societies. Notwithstanding, assuming low commercial interests, realizing the promises of MCCP will demand serious attention from national public health policymakers. The clinical and regulatory implications of population-based secondary prevention (which rely on a different evidence base, and in which entirely different risk-benefit and cost-effectiveness considerations apply) remain issues for active debate.
Polypill, cardiopill, coronary heart disease, primary prevention, population-based prophylactic therapy, eradication of heart attack
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